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Forklift Buying Guide: How to Buy the Right Forklift

It’s no secret that buying a forklift is an important investment for any business. Here at Sunbelt Material Handling, we like to educate our customers as much as possible prior to their purchase. Here are some of the most common questions we’ve been asked, along with their answers!

Should I buy a used forklift or a new forklift?

This is probably the most frequent question we get asked. In short, it depends on your usage rates. If you plan on using the forklift all day, every day, it’s best to go with a brand new forklift. If your lifting needs only call for an hour or two a day, choosing a quality used forklift is your best option.

Your budget also comes into play. While purchasing a new forklift presents a larger upfront cost, it actually can save you money long-term with proper maintenance. On the other hand, if you only plan on needing a forklift for a year or two, a used lift truck will do just fine.

Here is an entire blog post on things to keep in mind when choosing a used forklift.

Should I rent a forklift or buy a forklift?

Ah, the second-most asked question we get. This, like the answer above, depends on usage rate. Will you use it enough to get your money’s worth?

Like any product rental or purchase decision, you have to seriously plan for the future. Don’t tell yourself “Well, if we buy it, we’ll definitely use it.” And then it sits in the corner collecting dust for the next year…

Instead, figure out how often you will need to use the forklift. Do you plan on expanding your inventory or adding new products to your warehouse? If so, purchasing the forklift is definitely a viable option.

If you only need a forklift for a limited time – let’s say a few weeks, renting is your best bet. Just be careful – renting a forklift for a week 10 times during a year (less than once a month) could be more expensive than buying the equipment!

How much does it cost to maintain a forklift?

Like any other piece of heavy equipment, you can expect to spend money on forklift maintenance. Like cars, forklift tires, batteries and more don’t last forever!

Depending on the forklift dealer, you may have a few options when it comes to maintenance. Some dealers offer included maintenance, which is either figured into the sale cost or billed monthly. Another option could be scheduled maintenance appointments, which is like the sticker you get after an oil change with your car. These are suggestions, not commitments, on when to get your forklift serviced.

Other expenses could be lights, fuel, battery charger, tools for simple DIY fixes, oil changes, and more.

The main thing to keep in mind when it comes to forklift maintenance? Regular service will keep your machine running longer and more efficiently. Neglecting maintenance can lead to buying a new forklift, inventory damage, and employee injury.

What forklift attachments do I need?

Forklift forks, buckets, lifting beams, hooks, booms, buckets, clamps, rotators… Don’t feel embarrassed if you’re overwhelmed by the amount of forklift attachment options.

Choosing a forklift extension or attachment depends on what you need to move, and where you need to move it. There are different attachments made specifically to achieve each task.

Whether you need to move 500 pounds across your warehouse or lift 200 pounds 30 feet in the air, our experts can help. Contact us and we’ll help you decide which forklift attachment is perfect for you.

How do I choose which type of forklift tires I need?

The two most basic types of forklift tires are pneumatic tires and cushion tires. Think of these in terms of car tires: cushion tires are like basic tires while pneumatic tires are like all-season or winter tires.

Cushion tires are actually solid rubber, meaning they are not air-filled. These are best for indoor use, especially indoor facilities with smooth, even flooring. Forklift operators enjoy increased maneuverability and find it easier to navigate tight spaces with cushion tires.

Pneumatic tires are air-filled tires, designed to perform on nearly any terrain. Forklifts with pneumatic tires are suitable for outdoor use. They are able to navigate across gravel, cement, grass and more. There are even solid pneumatic tires for environments that could lead to wheel punctures.

Should I buy a gas or electric forklift?

There are advantages and disadvantages for each of these options.

Gas Forklift Advantages: Platinum II UniCarriers Forklift

  • Cheaper upfront cost
  • Ability to use almost non-stop
  • Lift efficiency is greater

Gas Forklift Disadvantages:

  • Gas isn’t cheap!
  • High maintenance costs
  • Emissions can be harmful in tight spaces

Electric Forklift Advantages: UniCarriers TX 3-Wheel Forklift

  • Charging costs less than fuel
  • Eco-friendly with little to no emissions
  • Quiet and efficient in the warehouse

Electric Forklift Disadvantages:

  • Larger upfront cost
  • Forklifts must be charged and cannot be used during charging
  • Not ideal for extreme outdoor use

Does it matter where I buy my forklift from?

Would you trust Joey Bag Of Donuts to sell you a car? Then why would you trust him to sell you a forklift?!

First off, find a forklift dealer who can answer the questions in this article. Did they talk about their general maintenance schedule and help you choose the right attachments? Or did they simply try to sell you the newest forklift on the lot for the most money?

There are many certifications and training classes forklift dealers can undergo to prove their value to customers. They can even become a certified dealer for a specific brand or brands, meaning their team has great experience working with that specific manufacturer.

Be sure to ask about their customer support and service levels. Will they be available 24/7? Forklift issues can occur at any time and you need a dealer who will be there to support you.

Some forklift dealers offer financing options to help customers afford the equipment they need. An extra step like this can go a long way when a customer is making a buying decision.